View Full Version : Marine sergeant faces discipline for Facebook critique of Obama

03-22-2012, 11:07 PM
(Reuters) - The Marine Corps has initiated disciplinary action against a Marine sergeant for comments he posted on his "Armed Forces Tea Party" Facebook page criticizing President Barack Obama, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Sergeant Gary Stein, 26, a weather forecaster assigned to Camp Pendleton near San Diego, cast the Marines' reaction to his comments as an infringement on his freedom of speech and defended his right to express personal political opinions when he is off-duty and out of uniform.

"There is not a document in this world that trumps the United States Constitution," the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted him as saying.

But Army veteran Rick Rogers, host of the San Diego military talk radio show "Front & Center," said Stein appeared to be instigating a confrontation with the Marines "to get notoriety." Stein previously ran afoul of the military over comments on his Armed Forces Tea Party page in 2010.

Defense Department rules allow military personnel to express political opinions so long as they are not doing so as representatives of the armed services.

"He had to know there's a good chance the Marine Corps would kick him out," Rogers told Reuters, explaining that associating the name of his Facebook page with the Armed Forces essentially put Stein in the position of speaking publicly while in uniform. "I believe in freedom of speech, but when you join the military, you give up some of your rights," Rogers added. "There's a firewall between the military and civilian politics -- you don't criticize the government while you're in uniform."Read More>http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/22/us-marine-facebook-idUSBRE82L1BG20120322